Energy storage, tick disease and antique snowmobile bills signed into law 

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    In this undated photo provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a blacklegged tick - also known as a deer tick. Diagnosing if a tick bite caused Lyme or something else can be difficult but scientists are developing a new way to catch the disease early, using a "signature" of molecules in patients' blood. (CDC via AP) James Gathany

  • FILE - In this May 15, 2017 file photo, ticks are displayed that were collected by South Street Veterinary Services in Pittsfield, Mass. Tick numbers are on the rise across New England this spring, raising the prospect of an increase in Lyme and other diseases. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP, File) Ben Garver

Monitor staff
Published: 7/14/2020 2:52:23 PM

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a trio of minor bills Tuesday, including an effort to boost renewable energy storage efforts.

House Bill 715 would require the Public Utilities Commission to look into ways to fairly compensate energy storage projects based on the savings those projects can bring to utility companies. 

The bill would push the PUC – which regulates utility companies – to find better payment models for companies that build energy storage. Those companies should get compensation for helping utilities avoid transmission and distribution costs.

By transferring electricity over long distances, utilities inevitably lose – or “leak” – power as it travels from A to B, racking up costs. Proponents of renewable energy say storage facilities can help better distribute the power so it doesn’t need to travel those distances. The compensation determined by the PUC would go to the storage companies for creating those savings. 

On Tuesday, Sununu also signed a bill to study new ways to test for Lyme disease and other diseases carried by ticks.

House Bill 490 would set up a state commission to look into the benefits and risks of serological diagnostic tests, which look for evidence of Lyme in a patient’s blood. 

Those tests work similarly to antibody tests for COVID-19. But the antibodies for Lyme disease can take weeks to appear in the bloodstream, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, the tests can result in false positives if they identify other diseases – including potentially COVID-19, the CDC says.

According to an introduction to the bill, “the lack of understanding and agreement on the causes of, and the effectiveness of alternative prevailing tests for, Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, and on the alternatives currently used to treat patients with chronic symptoms after diagnosis of tick-borne diseases, has left patients in a divided world of controversy without adequate access to affordable care.”

The creation of the commission is “in the public interest” and would allow for better education of physicians and medical professionals on the diagnosis and treatment options for Lyme, the bill states. The commission will consider the limitations of the current testing approach. 

Serving on the commission will be two House representatives, one senator, a physician certified to treat Lyme disease, New Hampshire’s state epidemiologist, a nurse practitioner, two patients with chronic Lyme disease, a mental health professional and a representative of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

The commission, which will meet monthly, will deliver a report in November 2021 and then disband. 

The governor also signed House Bill 496, which changes the definition of “antique snowmobile” to include those owned by non-New Hampshire residents. Antique snowmobiles are any snowmobile made earlier than 1995 or any antique motor vehicle that can travel on snow and is older than 1940. The snowmobile may be registered separately with a one-time lifetime fee. 

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